The first official drawings of a planned $220 million upgrade to Queensland Raceway in Australia have been revealed along with a new general manager. A new loop will add a further seven corners to the council-owned facility, while former Supercars Australia administrator Damien White has been revealed as the man to guide the project through to fruition.
Renderings of the newly-extended facility were released by Ipswich City Council as part of the announcement of White as general manager. The plans, which require state government backing, also include major upgrades to the existing Willowbank Raceway drag strip, go-kart facility and supporting infrastructure.
Earlier this year the city council announced its vision of creating a fully self-contained facility with hotels and facilities for the automotive industry, turning it into the Ipswich Motorsport Precinct.
Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale said as general manager White would progress the first phase of the $52.3 million master plan while overseeing day-to-day operations of the facility at Willowbank.
"Our vision is to cement Ipswich's reputation as Queensland's leading motorsport destination with financial support from the Queensland and Australian governments," Cllr Pisasale said.
"Damien will progress the development based on a comprehensive financially sound master plan that proposes major upgrades to the existing race circuit, drag strip and go-kart facility as well as new supporting infrastructure.
"Plans also permit development of a speedway stadium, motocross circuit, three-star hotel and opportunities for motorsport related retail and industry.
"Motorsport already plays an important role in the Ipswich economy with about 250,000 visitors to the precinct every year for a wide range of events and experiences."
'The Paperclip', as the current six-turn, 3.21km layout is widely known, opened in 1999 and has been a staple part of the Supercars Australia calendar from the outset, despite frequent criticism of its less-than-stellar layout. The new renderings show a new seven-turn loop which dives off towards the east from the main straight before rejoining the existing track just before the current Turn 1.
The redesign ensures that the current layout remains untouched and can continue to be used independently of the new section.
Mr White said he was looking forward to the challenge of spearheading the development.
"I am absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Ipswich Motorsport Precinct," he said.
"As soon as I saw the plans for the precinct I was blown away. This is not just about making minor tweaks to the current facilities; it is about repositioning Ipswich as the motorsport capital of Australia.
"The plans for Ipswich Motorsport Precinct will bring significant social and economic benefits to Ipswich by tapping into an industry with 20 per cent of its Australia-wide activity in Queensland.
"I look forward to helping make this vision a reality."
Among those present at the launch was Holden Racing Team star James Courtney, who gave the project the thumbs up to local reporters, saying he was excited by the plans.
Meanwhile, the Mayor was bullish about attracting the necessary state funding to make the project a reality saying he was confident a business plan that created jobs and positioned Queensland as the motorsport state of Australia would win approval.